Comply or transform? College ESOL programmes as a potential source of emancipation for immigrant communities in Scotland

Brown, Stephen Allan Charles (2018) Comply or transform? College ESOL programmes as a potential source of emancipation for immigrant communities in Scotland. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2018BrownEdD.pdf] PDF
Download (3MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


In Scotland, where large numbers of immigrants come from non-English speaking countries, a national strategy exists to promote the effective provision of courses in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), with a view to facilitating integration and participation in Scottish society. From a critical perspective, this vision implies an approach to ESOL that draws on theories of critical pedagogy, which seeks to create ‘…an informed, critical citizenry capable of participating and governing in a democratic society’ (Giroux 2011: 7). However, in a climate of neoliberal economic policymaking and the prioritisation of economic interests over social justice, there is pressure instead for education to ‘…create an individual that is an enterprising and competitive entrepreneur’ (Olssen et al 2004: 136). Such pressure obliges learners to compete and function within social constructs, which entails an uncritical acceptance of existing structural inequalities and therefore runs counter to the principles of critical pedagogy.
This dissertation focuses on ESOL provision in Scottish Further Education (FE) colleges, where the bulk of state-funded ESOL delivery takes place. The study explored perceptions among three key stakeholder groups – in policy, among practitioners and among learners – in order to examine the extent to which emancipation, as a social project, is perceived as an important feature of ESOL programmes. The research was composed of three parts: a policy analysis, which included a critical discourse analysis of the revised Adult ESOL Strategy for Scotland (Scottish Government 2015a), a study of the views of ESOL practitioners as expressed in responses to a questionnaire, and an analysis of the views of a group of ESOL learners, who participated in interviews.
Critical interpretive analysis of the research data suggests that, despite an apparent awareness of the negative impact of existing power structures on the successful inclusion of immigrants into Scottish society, perceptions across all three stakeholder groups appear to support neoliberal ideology rather than a collective movement towards societal transformation. This finding implies that any potential for college ESOL programmes to emancipate learners is seriously undermined, or indeed removed completely.
By taking a critical perspective, the research itself seeks to be emancipatory in attempting to expose the impact of these stakeholder perceptions on the extent to which social justice can be achieved for residents in Scotland whose first language is not English. The intention is for this dissertation to act as an interpellation. In the political sense, it challenges policymakers to explain and justify ESOL and FE policy in light of these research findings and their implications for social inclusion. The interpellation also extends to ESOL practitioners, calling on them to reflect critically on their praxis, the values inherent therein, and how these values impact on their learners.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: ESOL, immigration, integration, emancipation, critical pedagogy, ESOL strategy, comfort radicalism.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Davis, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Stephen A C Brown
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30791
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2018 13:22
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2023 14:25
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.30791

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year